For most recreational golfers, the toughest clubs to hit would be long irons, as they’re typically not very forgiving and difficult to elevate the ball with.

While technological advances have made traditional long irons more player-friendly in recent years, the trend for the last decade plus has been that average players have moved away from long irons, with more lofted fairway woods and hybrids emerging as the most popular replacements.

A new trend, however, has materialized in the last couple of years as well, as utility irons have become an increasingly popular option when it comes to replacing a long iron.

The majority of the game’s most well-known manufacturers now offer something that would equate to a utility iron, and PING has been ahead of the curve with its Crossover club.

PING G400 CrossoverThe original G Crossover proved to be extremely popular with players. PING engineers, however, decided to make several changes in designing the new G400 Crossover to both improve performance and make it more aesthetically pleasing.

“Hybrids are serving their purpose in the marketplace, but some players just, for whatever reason, don’t get along with hybrids,” PING Director of Product Development Marty Jertson said. “If they’re looking for a club to give them more distance control precision like an iron but they can’t hit their long irons high enough with enough ball speed, the Crossover is the club for them. It merges the distance control and accuracy of an iron with the ball speed and distance of a hybrid combined.”

The most notable change in terms of the G400 Crossover would be its streamlined look, as its overall profile, topline, and sole are thinner and more compact when compared to the G.

PING felt the trimmed-down footprint would prove to make the Crossover more pleasing to the eye of players, but thinning out the sole also has specific performance advantages.

“The sole is more hybrid-like,” Jertson said. “We’ve reduced a little bit of the bounce angle so we’re getting better surface contact through the turf. We’ve really upgraded the turf interaction.”

Also new and helping to improve turf interaction with the G400 is PING’s Hydropearl finish, which has been utilized with the company’s most recent iron releases. It replaces the black finish that was used with the G Crossover, and the Hydropearl finish offers 40 percent less friction through the turf to create more consistency in wet conditions or from poor lies in the rough.

It should be noted, however, that one thing PING engineers were cognizant of when streamlining the look of the G400 was that they didn’t make the club more difficult to hit.

Not only did that not happen, but the G400 Crossover is actually more forgiving than the G.

“While making it thinner, we didn’t want to sacrifice on the forgiveness and the accuracy,” Jertson added. “In fact, this club goes a lot straighter than its predecessor, and one of the ways we’ve done that is through (20) grams of tungsten weight in the low toe. This allowed us to, while thinning the club, still keep the inertia very, very high.”

PING G400 Crossover TechAlso part of the design strategy was to give players the workability they would more typically have with a traditional long iron, which is why the G400 Crossover has iron-like gearing.

More specifically, the CG has been positioned more forward, with the result being 40 percent more spin and 45 percent less shot bend, a combination that allows players to better control their golf ball and play shots to specific yardages.

That said, the G400 Crossover also has been designed to give players the higher launch conditions that they would usually see from a hybrid.

“It’s a flat-face club. We wanted to make that one of our design goals,”Jertson explained. “But players are shocked at how high this club goes. It’s definitely not a driving iron. This thing produces towering shots. We’re seeing trajectories that are twenty percent higher max height than the G Crossover.”

How have those higher launch conditions been achieved?

Said Jerston: “Very similar to the G400 irons, the cavity in the back allows the face to flex in a launch additive manner, so we’re getting higher launch angles, higher peak trajectory, and more stopping power.”

One other change that players who played the G Crossover can expect when it comes to the G400 is improved acoustics and feel, which could best be described as softer but more solid and crisp.

“The Crossover goes far, and it also feels amazing, just like the rest of the G400 family,” Jertson said. “Compared to its predecessor, players are going to be very excited with the impact experience with this club, not only through the turf but also the auditory feedback.”

G400 Crossovers are available in lofts of 19, 22, and 25 degrees. For players looking to replace other clubs in their bag, PING recommends that the 19-degree model replace a 3-iron or 7-wood, the 22-degree model replace a 4-iron or 9-wood, and the 25-degree model replace a 5-iron.

The stock shaft for the G400 Crossovers is the Alta CB 70, which is a counterbalanced design that enables a heavier clubhead to maximize energy transfer at impact, and the stock grip is the Golf Pride Tour Velvet.